Space Flight? There’s an App for That

The cutting edge scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center have pushed the space agency forward in many ways through the years.  This week, they did so again by releasing a new tool to help us all keep track of them many things happening at NASA.  They released an iPhone app – and it is quite well done.  The app is free, and you can get it on the App Store from Apple directly to the iPhone and iPod Touch or within iTunes.

It is not at all surprising that the NASA app comes from the Ames Research Center.  ARC is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, and the Innovative Partnerships Program at ARC has been the part of NASA that is most connected with developing cutting-edge technologies in partnership with the private sector.  The partnership with Google? – managed at ARC.  The partnership with companies developing a private ability to send supplies and people to the International Space Station? – managed at ARC.  The partnership with the venture capital community? – managed at ARC.

Why is it a good thing to have a NASA app?  Doesn’t NASA already have more than enough ways to communicate with the public?  In a word – no!

As a government agency, NASA is continually needing to justify its budget.  NASA’s projects are typically huge, require many years, and large amounts of money.  Things like exploring the universe, returning humans to the moon, and colonizing other planets to ensure the survival of mankind in the event of a cataclysm here on earth are hard enough in the best case, and the fits and starts associated with our governmental budgeting process makes them even harder.

In order to ensure that it has the funds to accomplish its goals, NASA requires constant political support.  That means that NASA must constantly remind us about what it is accomplishing with our tax dollars and justifying its continuing receipt of more of those dollars.  It needs to use every possible means of communications to do so.

Bravo NASA, and Bravo ARC!  Keep looking for innovative new ways to do things, whether in the core missions or in telling us about what you do.

Here is the page on the NASA web site describing the new iPhone app:  NASA iPhone App.

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